Creation vs. Evolution: World Views and Colored Glasses

There seems to be a renewed interest in debating the existence of a Creator or intelligent designer behind the universe (or multi-verse, as now being posited by some in the scientific community). I’m excited to see these questions getting some attention once again, because I believe Creationists have a valid story to tell with scientifically valid evidence. Is it always interpreted and communicated correctly? No, but then neither is the so-called “evidence” for the lack of a Creator, or of evolutionary processes being the ultimate “designers” of life on earth. A pox on all our houses for ever holding an incorrect idea. Oh wait–that’s the human condition, isn’t it?

Can we just stipulate that both sides of the debate have their own uninformed fan clubs who are in it more for the team than for a factual understanding of the evidence? That’s true, isn’t it? We have Christians who are not scientifically literate who are pro-Creation because of a bias, just as we have secularists who are not scientifically literate and who are atheist because of a bias. Conversely, we have secularists who are Biblically illiterate, throwing out accusations at the Bible based on an uniformed understanding of the document, as well as Christians who are equally Biblically illiterate, throwing back uninformed defenses of the document which don’t hold water.

The answer to this dilemma is to work from ignorance to knowledge; confusion to understanding; darkness to enlightenment. I don’t mean knowledge in the sense that either side of the debate has all of it. I don’t even believe Christianity per se has a lock on scientific understanding. Christianity is a way of life based on a world view which hold’s a book called the Bible in high regard. That world view colors our understanding of the world, for sure, as all world views do. But doesn’t naturalism as a world view, which is the presupposition upon which modern (not historical) science is predicated, color the secular scientist’s understanding of the world? We always have trouble seeing the color of our own glasses, don’t we?

Unfortunately, we’re in a moment in history where Creationists, theists, or intelligent design-ists, are the new Galileo. If your understanding of the scientific evidence regarding an intelligent designer, or the age of the earth, or evolutionary biology contradicts scientific consensus (read “orthodoxy”) you are considered an heretic and professionally “burned at the stake.” (Watch Ben Stein’s Expelled.)

So how do we work on increasing our personal knowledge and understanding of these issues so we can at least speak knowledgeably, if not authoritatively about the subject? I believe both sides of the debate (if indeed there are only two sides; this may be a gross over-simplification) have to understand the opposing points of view. What drives one to accept naturalism? What is its appeal? What arguments really do throw some weight onto one side of the scale as we rationally evaluate the evidence? What is the role of faith? Does one’s faith have to conflict with a free and open sense of scientific inquiry?

Denying that atheists or evolutionists have some powerful arguments doesn’t accomplish anything. In fact, it is doing to them the very thing we don’t like them to do to us: dismissing their arguments out of hand. I would rather understand what my evolutionist friends believe and why before offering my reasons for not accepting their rationale for any given argument.

I believe it’s possible for the atheist to come to know the Creator of the uni/multi-verse despite an initial acceptance of naturalism, just as it’s possible for Christians to be swayed by their understanding of the “evidence” and come to reject a Creator. Should they do so? Not in my opinion. But the truth doesn’t need to be afraid of a lie. Believers should not shrink from open dialogue with those who reject our faith, any more than Paul shrunk from open dialogue with the pagans in the Greek Agora. Atheism as a philosophy may be an enemy of everything we as Christians believe in, and atheists who preach hate toward Christians should be spoken against strongly. But individuals who simply question or disbelieve God’s existence are not our enemies. Can I hear an “amen?”

New interest in the Creation vs. Evolution debate

It’s great to see a renewed interest in the age-old debate between Creation and Evolution as world views. Ken Ham’s debate with Bill Nye the “Science Guy” should be a fun and informative presentation of these two world views. Outspoken evolution/atheist activists often ridicule creationists as a bunch of anti-intellectual hicks and try to shut down debate as a useless exercise in arguing “established science.” Really? Bill Nye was heavily criticized for honoring his agreement to debate Mr. Ham. Why? It seems to me that the truth need not be afraid of a lie. If the interest in free and open debate, bring it on. If the interest is to propagandize the masses, then fine, squelch debate and try Creationists who are also scientists as “heretics.” My how the roles have flipped since Galileo’s time.

Here’s the debate stream on YouTube:

I have great respect for science when it sticks to observable science that can be hypothesized, predicted and tested. That is the kind of science that innovates new frontiers in technology and new advances in understanding the world we live in. The problem is that forensic “science,” or the “science” of trying to determine past events (whose hyptheses by nature cannot be predicted and tested), does not have the same weight of credibility.

Here’s the biggest problem I see in accepting evolutionary theory as established “science.” This is my current thinking, subject to change if I find a more compelling argument.

The biggest logical hurdle macro-evolutionists have to completely sidestep is that there is no evolutionary process by which genetic information gets added to a genome. Macro-evolution presupposes an upward trajectory of both the quantity and quality of information in the genome, and that is just not consistent with reality.

A perfectly created genome followed by generational loss in quality and quantity of genetic information is a much more plausible explanation of the genetic diversity of living things. In the rare instance where a positive random mutation does occur, it certainly doesn’t happen frequently enough to account for the amazing diversity and complexity of life, IMO.

Just as matter is material by definition, I think information is intellectual by definition. That’s why we have an area of law to protect intellectual property–ideas. Information as I see it necessitates an intellect. Since DNA is information, it also necessitates an intellect who designed both the code (the language by which information can be understood) and the decoding process by which cells can “read” the information and reproduce in the appropriate way.

Information is therefore the meaning that is conveyed, not the symbols or medium used to convey it. It can’t even be defined materially, really. A particular quantity of information can be measured (bytes, kilobytes, megabytes, terabytes, etc.), but that measurement is only valid when that information is encoded in a particular form (binary, for instance) and says nothing about the quality or meaning of the information. For instance, I can measure the size of a term paper written in English and saved in Word in bytes, but if I type it in Chinese characters and measure the size of the file, it is going to be a different measurement. Same quantity and quality of information (meaning), different language, therefore different physical measurements of that information.

Ones and zeros are not material, nor are they information or “data” by themselves. Only when meaning is present–i.e. an intellect is arranging the ones and zeros to convey a particular meaning from one person or computing process to another–do the “particular arrangement or sequence” (as Google defines information) of those ones and zeros become information. I can randomly press keys on my keyboard and eventually create a one-megabyte file. Without seeing the contents, one might assume there is one megabyte of information in that file, but after opening it up, they’d realize that the random symbols mean nothing and thus do not “inform” anyone of anything. Therefore, they do not constitute “information.”

Why does the left want to disarm women?

I have been stunned at how bold the anti-gun advocates are in wanting to disarm women. What’s so stunning about it is that it is largely men telling women they don’t “need” a gun to protect themselves. Tell that to the women who have actually been victimized by a rapist.

I find the condescension toward women reprehensible. Who are these people that think they have the right to tell anyone how they can or can’t protect themselves?

I highly recommend every adult watch this interview of five rape victims.

Update: I just found this bizarre video of an anti-gun advocate suggesting that women don’t need guns because we just need to “train men not to rape.” Oh, is that all? I have a compromise. How about I train my daughters to shoot attackers until the politicians, in their infinite wisdom, come up with a way to train men not to rape? Unbelievable. Here’s the video:

The reality of guns and self defense

I could spend all day every day documenting the legal and moral use of guns in self defense and the defense of the defenseless. Since I don’t have the time to do that, I’ll use this post to add links to stories as I run across them. The stories of real people who have actually fended off attackers by using a gun will do more to illustrate the morality of gun ownership and the immorality of a government that would disarm its citizens.

  1. Great Grandmother Fires At Thug 11 Times After Brazen Mid-Morning Robery In Detroit

    A great grandmother in Detroit was accosted on a bus by an armed mugger. A concealed carry permit holder, she pulled out her 9mm and protected herself and other bus riders. “I used to be against gun control,” she told WJBK.  “No—no, this is legal.”
  2. No Shots Fired: Home Intruders Decide Not To Stick Around After Seeing Their ‘Victim’ Holding an AR-15
    Two intruders, one armed with a shotgun, broke into a New York apartment. When one of them opened a bedroom door where one of the residents was holding an unloaded AR-15, the intruders ran from the premises.

Non-violence, self defense, and gun ownership

“Guns are therefore not just a quaint and nostalgic part of American culture; they have been central to its preservation of freedom, advancement of human rights, and ability to reform itself against injustices along the way.”

The philosophy of non-violence is usually discussed in the pop-culture isolated from the subject of self-defense. We hear most about the evils of violence when there is a mass shooting, such as what occurred in Newtown, Connecticut, not when an armed citizen protects herself or her family from an attacker, which happens much more frequently across America. As a result, progressive politicians and media hacks are able to promote a sanitized view of the philosophy of non-violence conceived in ivory towers and spin-rooms, without having to address the messy reality that includes a fallen world with criminals who want to hurt you and your family.

Those who look up to the generally non-violent teachings of Jesus, Gandhi or King might think their ideologies are contradictory to the idea of self-defense, and by extension, gun ownership for the purpose of self-defense. But that’s not really accurate.

All three of these leaders made a crucial distinction between non-violence as a tool of political and social reform, and defense of self or family against the actions of criminals. One can make a moral defense of non-violent political reform, but there is no moral defense for refusing, given the opportunity, to stop a criminal who is about to kill innocents. That is morally indefensible.

Consequently, there is no moral defense for a government that seeks to make its citizens defenseless against such criminals. Disarming law-abiding citizens will not slow the growth of violence; it will accelerate it by disarming the very ones able to stop it. In addition, disarming the governed turns them into subjects, and the political class into rulers rather than an extension of self-government. But that is another discussion for another time.

The teachings of Jesus, Gandhi, and King are too often portrayed to promote a radically non-violent ideology, or pacifism, when that was never what they taught. These great leaders instead rose to fame speaking about matters of political, social, and spiritual reform, not the pragmatic world of self-defense. Where they did address the use of force in self-defense as a separate subject, all three allowed for it.

I don’t believe for a moment that Jesus taught individuals not to defend themselves or their families against criminals. That would be morally reprehensible. How could a loving God desire a husband to let a criminal rape his wife while non-violently protesting the act? All violence is not equal; there is moral violence and immoral violence. We know this because Jesus specifically instructed his disciples to sell some of their outer garments and buy a sword (which may have been the first recorded instance of a policy of “open carry” of a weapon – Luke 22:36-38). I can imagine that carrying their swords openly would have led to fewer conflicts with the baser sorts they might have encountered in their travels.

Paul later writes about the dangers of his missionary travels, including encountering bands of robbers (2 Corinthians 11:26-28) on the road. I think it’s safe to assume, given Jesus’s instruction to his disciples to carry a sword, that Paul didn’t turn the other cheek to the bandits, but wielded his sword when necessary. If he carried it in plain view, he probably didn’t have to use it often.

To understand Jesus’s teaching to “turn the other cheek,” we have to understand that he was most often addressing the Sanhedrin and Pharisees, the hypocritical political and religious leaders of the day who lived by the creed “an eye for an eye.” That is a far cry from what modern believers advocate in defense of the Second Amendment. Jesus lived in a society that faced political oppression from the Roman government, and expected a coming Messiah to rise up in a violent overthrow (something the religious sect called the Zealots actively promoted). His teachings were designed to exemplify a different concept of the Kingdom of God, teaching his followers to view this Kingdom as a spiritual entity rather than a political one.

This was a different topic entirely than that of self defense. That subject went almost untouched by Jesus. Pacifists will cite Jesus’s famous reproof of Peter to “Put your sword back in its place, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). However, even this occurred in the context of Jesus leading what amounts to a non-violent protest against the leaders of the day who opposed his message. He was not giving any instruction against self-defense, but against violent political aggression.

Gandhi’s teachings on non-violence are much easier to correlate with the practical idea of self-defense, because he openly taught that non-violence was a tool that should be considered first, but not exclusively. He addressed self-defense and defense of the defenseless this way:

“I have been repeating over and over again that he who cannot protect himself or his nearest and dearest or their honour by non-violently facing death may ought to do so by violently dealing with the oppressor. He who can do neither of the two is a burden. He has no business to be the head of a family. He must either hide himself, or must rest content to live for ever in helplessness and be prepared to crawl like a worm at the bidding of a bully. …

“I must not let a coward seek shelter behind nonviolence so-called. Not knowing the stuff of which nonviolence is made, many have honestly believed that running away from danger every time was a virtue compared to offering resistance, especially when it was fraught with danger to one’s life. As a teacher of nonviolence I must, so far as it is possible for me, guard against such an unmanly belief.

“Self-defence … is the only honourable course where there is unreadiness for self-immolation.

“Though violence is not lawful, when it is offered in self-defence or for the defence of the defenceless, it is an act of bravery far better than cowardly submission. The latter befits neither man nor woman. Under violence, there are many stages and varieties of bravery. Every man must judge this for himself. No other person can or has the right.” (Source: The Mind of Mahatma Gandhi)

Like Gandhi, King’s espousal of non-violence was clearly promoted in the context of political and social reform, not personal self-defense or the defense of other defenseless people. In fact, it’s a matter of historical record that King at one point applied for a concealed carry license, and almost always traveled with armed guards. Glenn Smiley, one of his closest advisors, described King’s home as “an arsenal” for a reason. He once almost sat on a loaded gun on a chair at a meeting in his home. King wrote:

Here one must be clear that there are three different views on the subject of violence. One is the approach of pure nonviolence, which cannot readily or easily attract large masses, for it requires extraordinary discipline and courage. The second is violence exercised in self-defense, which all societies, from the most primitive to the most cultured and civilized, accept as moral and legal. The principle of self-defense, even involving weapons and bloodshed, has never been condemned, even by Gandhi, who sanctioned it for those unable to master pure nonviolence. The third is the advocacy of violence as a tool of advancement, organized as in warfare, deliberately and consciously. There are incalculable perils in this approach. (Source: The Social Organization of Non-Violence)

The little-known truth is that civil rights era leaders like John Salter, the famous organizer of the 1963 sit-ins, travelled armed, and praised the Second Amendment for allowing him and his fellow organizers to protest and reform society while keeping some level of personal safety for themselves and their families. In fact, the oft-maligned NRA stood side-by-side with black civil rights leaders helping to ensure their legal right to arm themselves as protection against the violent KKK, but that fact is conveniently airbrushed out of the record by modern pundits. Guns are therefore not just a quaint and nostalgic part of American culture; they have been central to its preservation of freedom, advancement of human rights, and ability to reform itself against injustices along the way.

Our culture has become philosophically illiterate on the subjects of non-violence and gun ownership. It is one thing to sit in the agora in our philosophers’ robes and discuss theories of pacifism detached from the need to actually put them into practice. It is quite another to sit in a crowded theater and watch innocent people, unarmed by the theater chain’s policy against concealed carry, be murdered in cold blood. The brand of non-violence that leaves the defenseless incapable of protecting innocent life is not at all what Jesus, Gandhi, or King advocated. That philosophy is a fabrication of the political class and only the most extreme religious pacifists.

The philosophy of non-violence was never meant by its most famous advocates to prohibit ownership of weapons, or to prohibit defending oneself or other innocents. I will choose to protect my family today and worry about explaining it to the armchair philosophers tomorrow. Call it short sighted, but at least my family will be alive to have that debate.

Gun free schools?

I have some questions for advocates of gun-free schools. Guns have been brought to the forefront of public debate since the Newtown, Connecticut school shootings. Instead of a thoughtful discussion of the role of psychiatric medications in mass shootings, or reasonable conversations about the early warning signs of mental instability, the left has resorted to its typical Pavlovian response of banning guns, confiscating them, or otherwise regulating them into non-existence.

Ideology aside, the data are clear that none of these approaches will actually do anything to reduce violent crime, simply because it’s not the law abiding citizens that commit crimes with guns. In places where gun control has been tried, it invariably leads to higher crime rates. Watch what happens when guns are banned. By definition, passing a law keeping law-keepers from owning guns will result in the law-breakers having the upper hand in executing their crimes.

I’ll save the constitutional argument for another post. For this article, let’s just focus on some probing questions related to gun free schools.

  1. We protect our money at banks with armed security. Why would we NOT protect something even more valuable—our kids—with armed security? I don’t like the fact that that’s what is necessary, but we must deal with the facts as they are, not the facts as we’d like them to be.
  2. We have gun-free schools. Why don’t we have gun-free banks?
  3. When we advertise the fact that a school is gun-free, aren’t we telling all the crazy people who might think about committing an act of mass violence, “Hey, no one will shoot back at you if you do it here?” A gun-free school equals hundreds of defenseless children in the minds of psychopaths.
  4. Isn’t it hypocritical that politicians have made themselves a protected class that can automatically carry a concealed firearm, regardless of local concealed carry laws, but they are leaving our children defenseless with a no-gun policy at schools?
  5. Isn’t it hypocritical that the Obamas’ kids can go to a private school with 11 armed security guards—in addition to Secret Service members—but the politicians want to keep guns out of the public schools that “average people” send their kids to?
  6. Isn’t it a no-brainer that schools with administrators and teachers voluntarily trained in the use of concealed firearms can react faster and keep their kids safer in the event of a mass shooting than those without such protection?
  7. I know the ideology of the left generally trumps common sense, but shouldn’t the facts having to do with the safety of children be more important to public policy than the left’s irrational blind hatred for guns?

Jamie’s Wedding

Well, obviously the broadcast idea didn’t work too well. Like most weddings, it started a little late, and since I was on for walking Karen down the aisle, I had to explain to Saty how to do the broadcast. The app eventually crashed and I was lucky to get any video at all!

Here is my YouTube Channel with some clips. Saty and Alora have more from their cameras that I’ll post here when I can get it uploaded.

QE3 – Because if it didn’t work twice, the third time is the charm

I’m dumbfounded by the stupidity of Bernanke et al and the Obama administration’s reckless dash toward the financial cliff in announcing today yet another round of “quantitative easing,” newsspeak for printing money. So the Fed is buying our nation’s debt again. What could possibly go wrong?

How about hyperinflation, for starters?

There is no good way out of this financial morass Washington D.C. has gotten us into by spending our children’s future earnings. If we stop printing money and try to suck back in the inflated money supply, it’s going to hurt a lot of people. Already there has been too much money printing, and it will likely lead to hyperinflation as the velocity of money picks up.

On the other hand, if we keep printing money and tripling down like we are, we are going to end up with even more of a problem when the whole house of cards falls. It seems the only way to protect ourselves is to make sure each of us gets out of debt, lives within our means, and puts money and resources aside to be able to help those around us when the system crashes down.

Meanwhile, the media have utterly ignored the fact that Bernanke lied to congress in recorded testimony when he told us he would never monetize the debt. That’s exactly what QE is, and everyone knows it, even with the harmless sounding terminology.

Apple’s Two-Finger-Scroll on a PC

Well, I had to go out and buy a PC for the first time ever. I’ve worked on PCs for the entirety of my computing experience (yes, from the good old DOS days through the transition to NT and eventually the modern Windows platform), but always enjoyed coming home to my Macs–whether that was my first Apple IIe compatible Franklin (pre-PC) in high school or my most recent Macbook Pro.

Nevertheless, I needed to invest in a PC as a low-cost way to set up some software to run around the clock. I didn’t want to pay the premium to buy a Mac and install Bootcamp on it just to be able to run Windows.

I got an HP laptop, but the first thing I missed was the two-finger scroll of the Mac trackpad. After Googling it, I soon found out that there is a lightweight two-finger scroll available for PCs.

Note that once you install it, you’ll want to right-click on the icon in the system tray and set it to load automatically at startup.